Tamara Alesi, the CEO of Mediaplus North America, leads the North American office of the largest independent and partner-managed media agency in Europe. With 35 offices across 20 countries, she holds a commanding position. Tamara boasts a career spanning over two decades, rich in media and marketing experience. Under her leadership clients like Apple, L’Oréal, and De’Longhi have reached new heights, delivering award-winning campaigns.
Tamara is a recognized Media Maven, earning accolades and recognition from industry leaders such as Adweek, eMarketer, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Her journey through the corporate landscape has been remarkable, marked by smooth transitions between brand experiences. This journey has fostered her professional growth and personal development.
Tamara’s mission goes beyond business success; she aspires to build a media agency that garners affection from all stakeholders, including her talented team, esteemed brand partners, and trusted publishers. Her dedication to community engagement and advancing diversity and inclusion highlights her commitment to a more inclusive industry.
This cover story provides a candid exploration of Tamara’s leadership, emphasizing her results-driven corporate persona and her exceptional ability to create and deliver media solutions aligned with the organization’s objectives.
An Impressive Career in Marketing and Advertising
Tamara recalls her remarkable career as an incredible journey marked by transitions from one brand experience to another. This journey has provided her with unique opportunities for personal and professional growth, establishing her as a prominent figure in the field.
For most of her career, Tamara has focused on the agency side of the industry. However, six years ago, she underwent a pivotal transformation akin to a self-curated MBA experience. This shift led her to the brand side of marketing, starting with Birchbox, a pioneering direct-to-consumer (DTC) beauty brand. Later, she assumed the role of Chief Growth Officer at Fluent, a distinguished performance publisher, and served as the Head of Media at YouGov, a respected source of industry knowledge.
This diverse range of experiences has expanded her understanding of the industry beyond her initial expectations, providing her with an invaluable perspective that fuels her ambition to create her dream agency. Furthermore, Tamara has witnessed and actively participated in the rapid ascent of the digital landscape within the media and advertising industry; a digital OG.
Throughout her illustrious career, Tamara has achieved several significant milestones:
- Global Launch of the iPhone: Tamara played a crucial role in the global launch of the iPhone, a landmark moment in the tech world.
- Transformation of L’Oreal: She initiated L’Oreal’s transition into a digital-first brand, contributing to the brand’s evolution.
- Adweek’s Media Plan of the Year: Tamara and her team received recognition for their exceptional work on Revlon’s ‘Love is On’ campaign, earning the prestigious Adweek’s Media Plan of the Year award.
- Ad Age Media Maven: Her contributions to the industry earned her the title of Ad Age Media Maven, reflecting her expertise and influence.
- Board Member of the TD Foundation: Tamara actively serves as a board member of the TD Foundation, a volunteer organization dedicated to supporting the children of wounded warriors and fallen heroes.
- NY Pops 40th Anniversary Corporate Honoree: Tamara received special recognition as the 40th Anniversary Corporate Honoree by the NY Pops, sharing the spotlight with musical honoree Barry Manilow.
Above all, what Tamara values most is her ability to empower others. She approaches consumers as people first, believing that understanding them on a personal level is the foundation of effective marketing. Tamara earns the trust of her clients by recognizing them as both individuals and professionals. Her commitment to people-centric leadership defines her approach and is a cornerstone of her success in the industry. “As a leader, I know when to roll up my sleeves and when to get out of the team’s way to let my team shine,” says Tamara.
The Establishment of Mediaplus Group and Its Unique Offerings
Mediaplus Group, a global media planning, and buying agency, was founded in 1983. It operates under the Serviceplan Group, an esteemed European agency group with over 50 years of experience, being the largest independently owned agency group on the continent. With a presence in 20 countries and a workforce of over 5,500 professionals, Mediaplus Group has firmly established itself as an industry leader.
In North America, Mediaplus is the best of a boutique plus the power of scale, uniquely positioned with the strength and resources of a large organization. This distinctive positioning makes Mediaplus the ideal partner for brand collaborators seeking a blend of agility and scale. “We think and act beyond media to achieve greater impact for our client partners. Our owner-managed partnership model allows for more flexibility, faster decision-making, and the development of more trusting, long-term client relationships,” says Tamara.
“We assist our clients in staying one step ahead of the competition. And by always challenging the status quo, we offer new ways to achieve greater impact.”
One of the most notable aspects of Mediaplus’s operating model is its flexibility for brands. This flexibility does not compromise access to strategic planning, technical capabilities, or execution tools. Simultaneously, the agency’s global stature allows it to tap into the full range of the group’s global and integrated resources. This unique blend of global influence and a personalized, hands-on approach defines Mediaplus’s essence.
Under Tamara’s leadership, Mediaplus North America has experienced remarkable growth. The agency’s growth metrics are impressive: a 900% increase in the client roster, an 800% growth in the talent pool, and a remarkable 2200% increase in revenue, all on a year-over-year basis.
Mediaplus serves diverse industries, including B2B, B2C, and B2G sectors. Its reach extends across a wide spectrum of industries, including Technology, Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), Travel, Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR), Home Goods, Spirits, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), and Beauty.
In navigating these industries, Mediaplus faces common challenges, including a crowded marketplace and the imperative need for brands to distinguish themselves and achieve breakthroughs. Furthermore, the agency excels at providing the necessary strategic investments for sustainable growth in an ever-evolving landscape.
Prominent Roles and Challenges of Tamara Alesi: A Leadership Journey
Tamara’s role as CEO involves a multifaceted range of responsibilities that illustrate her commitment to success. In addition to her CEO role, she also takes on the roles of COO and CCO, reflecting the versatile approach required for achievement in her position.
Her portfolio of tasks encompasses several key areas, including leadership, business strategy, and growth. Client relations, team management, and innovative stewardship are also pivotal facets of her role. Tamara equally dedicates herself to risk management, marketing, and social responsibility. Future-proofing the company and managing its financial growth are also integral parts of her role.
One aspect that holds significant meaning for Tamara is her appreciation for being part of the dynamic advertising and media industry. As a leader, she strives to contribute to the industry’s vibrancy, ensuring its continued vitality for future generations of advertising and media leaders.
In her leadership journey, three primary concerns occupy her thoughts. Foremost among these is talent. Tamara recognizes the pivotal role of attracting, retaining, and nurturing top talent as a critical driver of the company’s success. Building robust teams and fostering employee motivation and engagement are paramount, as she envisions these individuals as the organization’s future leaders.
The second concern is navigating the uncertainties of the marketplace. The ever-evolving media and business landscape presents numerous challenges, from economic fluctuations to technological and privacy regulations, as well as shifts in consumer behavior. Tamara emphasizes the importance of continuous learning, equipping her team with the knowledge needed to guide partners with well-founded perspectives grounded in research and critical thinking.
Finally, personal and family well-being holds a special place in her heart. She acknowledges the demanding and sometimes stressful nature of her role, which essentially entails a 24/7 commitment. While she dismisses the notion of achieving a traditional work-life balance, she finds harmony in her life. Tamara explains, “My 12-year-old daughter and I constructed a greenhouse from a Wayfair kit. Every weekend, we dedicate time to the garden, including preparing meals together from the fruits of our labor. It genuinely alleviates my stress and affords precious time with my most important person.”
Mediaplus Team: Committed to Excellence
Under the leadership of Tamara, Mediaplus takes great pride in the agency and the team they have thoughtfully assembled. “Every hire has been purposeful. Every individual has value to add and has an instrumental impact on our culture and the agency we are today and a year from now,” affirms Tamara.
For Tamara, nurturing talent is a profound responsibility that keeps her engaged and focused. She sees her role as one that offers opportunities to her team, while it is their responsibility to challenge themselves, consistently deliver 120%, and find ways to love what they do. This dynamic is what keeps the team motivated and the work environment engaging and enjoyable.
Tamara believes that motivating and ensuring productivity within a team relies on several key factors: strong leadership, effective communication, and creating a positive work environment. At Mediaplus, these principles are actively put into practice.
The company instills a sense of purpose in every team member, establishes clear goals and expectations, offers regular feedback, and empowers its members. They recognize the importance of enjoying their work and celebrating achievements. Opportunities for growth are readily available, and leading by example is a fundamental principle that guides their approach.
Insights on Marketing and Advertising Trends
Tamara shares her perspective on the industry’s most significant trends. She carefully observes and evaluates the evolving landscape to provide insights into the current state of marketing and advertising. “Consumers want everything to be easy and immediate. As marketers, it’s our responsibility to check these boxes to grow the share of mind and wallet,” asserts Tamara.
One of the notable trends generating buzz is TikTok. Tamara emphasizes the need for brands to shift their perspective from viewing TikTok solely as a social media platform to considering it as a search engine, similar to Google and Amazon. Short-form video content on platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels has witnessed a surge in popularity, transforming how users engage with content, influence decisions, and shape their considerations. Recognizing that this behavior extends to consumers in both their personal and professional lives opens up enhanced marketing opportunities for both B2B and B2C sectors through the use of concise and engaging videos.
Additionally, podcasting continues to gain momentum, driven by a continuous improvement in content quality and its ability to attract a growing audience. While podcasting has historically posed challenges in terms of measurement, the industry is now adapting and witnessing positive outcomes. Marketers are increasingly leveraging podcasts as an effective medium for targeted and engaging advertising.
Tamara’s Vision for Effective Marketing
Tamara holds a perspective that aligns with today’s advertising landscape. In her view, advertisers seek transparency, flexibility, and performance. After a decade of consolidation within large holding companies, brands reject excessive fees, rigid timelines, and siloed approaches. Tamara emphasizes that efficiency doesn’t always equate to effectiveness.
At Mediaplus, they perceive an opportunity to create something that truly matches the times instead of trying to retrofit a colossal entity to adapt to the new normal. Their core values revolve around transparency, flexibility, and a performance-first approach, positioning themselves as genuine partners. Their integrated team seamlessly connects the dots, remains agile in response to today’s evolving landscape, and distinguishes themselves with a holistic commerce-oriented offering, all while maintaining a crucial personal touch.
Measuring the success of marketing campaigns is crucial for assessing their effectiveness, optimizing strategies, and efficiently allocating resources. The key performance indicators (KPIs) used for measurement depend on a campaign’s specific goals and objectives. At Mediaplus, they prioritize KPIs such as brand awareness and lift, sales and revenue, ROAS, and customer acquisition/retention.
When reflecting on the most common mistakes made by marketing and advertising professionals, Tamara highlights several pitfalls:
1. Confusing Media Objectives: Failing to differentiate media objectives from other campaign objectives, leading to a lack of understanding of how to effectively reach consumers.
2. Basic Planning: Setting lofty goals in theory but only planning and providing for the essentials.
3. Fear of Innovation: Hesitating to test and innovate, which can limit growth and progress.
4. Data over Art: Relying excessively on data while overlooking the artistry that can make marketing resonate with audiences.
Under Tamara’s leadership, Mediaplus represents a new approach to marketing, grounded in transparency, flexibility, and performance. Their commitment to understanding client needs and delivering results is the driving force behind their success in today’s dynamic advertising landscape.
Advice for Aspiring Marketing and Advertising Professionals
When advising young professionals aspiring to build a career in marketing and advertising, Tamara shares her insights. She mentors numerous individuals and values this role. One common question she encounters is, “How did you become a CEO?” Her answer is simple: she committed to giving 200% effort every day and actively sought opportunities to stand out.
Tamara’s journey involved extensive listening, observing, reading, and gaining hands-on experience. It is important to note that her path wasn’t without its share of mistakes, but she emphasizes that success often entails making mistakes, learning from them, and continually improving.
Tamara emphasizes that advertising and marketing go beyond the confines of a typical 9-to-5 job. It is a client service industry, which means there are instances when work extends into late hours or weekends, depending on the needs of brand partners. Despite this, she finds this dedication worthwhile. The sense of fulfillment achieved upon completing a project, winning a pitch, or securing a client is immensely gratifying. “It just feels amazing. And it’s a high I find worth it, time and time again,” Tamara concludes.